To be guilty of a violation of Penal Code 211, Robbery, the People must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The defendant took property that was not his own;
- The property was taken from another person's possession and immediate presence;
- The property was taken against that person's will;
- The defendant used force or fear to take the property or to prevent the person from resisting;
- When the defendant used force or fear to take the property, he intended to deprive the owner of it permanently or to remove it from the owner's possession for so extended a period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property.
The following are just a couple examples of potential defenses to a charge of robbery:
The alleged victim was unaware that the property was taken until after the perpetrator had left the area:
Suppose Sally went to the park to feed the birds. She sat down on a park bench and placed her purse on the ground behind her. At that same time, Tom was walking through the park and saw the purse behind the park bench. While Sally was facing the other way feeding the birds, Tom snuck up behind Sally and took her purse without her knowing. Tom then exited the park and walked to his home 2 miles away. After Tom was already home, Sally realized her purse was missing.
Under these circumstances Tom would not be guilty of robbery because he did not use force or fear to take the property or to prevent Sally from resisting. In fact, Sally didn't even know the purse was missing until after Tom was long gone. Under these facts, Tom would however be guilt of theft.
The property was not taken from the alleged victim's possession and immediate presence.
Suppose Sally went to the park to feed the birds. She sat down on a park bench and placed her purse on the ground behind her. At that same time, Tom was walking through the park and saw the purse behind the park bench. As Tom watched from across the park, Sally got up and left the park, forgetting her purse behind the park bench. After Sally had been gone for ten minutes and was six blocks away, Tom decided to go get the purse. He grabbed the purse and walked home. After Tom had already gotten home, Sally realized she had forgotten her purse and ran back to the park. The purse and Tom were gone.
Here Tom would not be guilty of robbery because Tom did not take the purse from Sally's possession and immediate presence. Sally may have had the right to still possess the purse, but the purse was no longer in her immediate presence when Tom took it. Therefore, Tom is not guilty of robbery. Under these facts, Tom would likely however be guilty of theft.